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pitta is upon us…tips for balancing this summer-like dosha

Summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere: days are long, light is abundant, the weather is warm. In Ayurveda, this is pitta dosha season. Pitta dosha is a combination of two elements, fire and water, but mostly fire. Makes sense, as summer is more or less hot depending on where you live. As the seasons change, the elements that are dominant in the atmosphere also change. For better harmony with nature and our bodies, it’s best to adjust and change how we live — what we eat, how we schedule our days, the activities we choose— from winter to spring to summer to fall.

Doshas have characteristics. Pitta is hot, light, bright, intense, sharp, capable, transforming, spreading, strong, and penetrating. Doesn’t that sound like summer? The rule of thumb in Ayurveda is that opposites create balance. We therefore want to apply all things opposite to these pitta qualities during summertime so we can cultivate ease, coolness, softness, smoothness, rest, space, relaxation, and awareness.

Here are some simple tips to keep in mind for diet, schedule, and exercise this pitta season:

-With warmer temperatures it’s good to add more cool and raw foods into the diet like lettuce and veggies; for easier digestion, try bringing these summer staples to room temperature before eating.

-Eat a little lighter.  If you are living in a region of high heat, your body is working to keep you cool and you likely don’t need as much fuel.

-Choose cooling spices and foods like cucumber, mint, cilantro; avoid hot, pungent and spicy ingredients.

-Exercising in the middle of the day or afternoon is aggravating to the system during summertime. Get out early in the morning to move the body when it's cooler. Add in some swimming, the ultimate form of summer exercise.

-Include periods of rest during your yoga practice, ending with restorative poses. This will balance your body and reduce the intensity of a more vigorous practice.

-Try cooling breaths like Sitali or Sitkari.

-Schedule down time during the week. Increase periods of ease including short, restful pauses and slow evening strolls.  Make sure you have days to unwind and if possible a vacation from your normal output.

-Spend time in nature. Nature is soothing and rejuvenating. Move away from screens, stimulation, noise. If possible, be near a lake or pond or river, a refreshing body of water soothes pitta dosha.

Make these simple, powerful adjustments this vibrant time of year; you’ll feel calmer and more balanced and better able to keep your cool and enjoy these summer days.



Nikki Estrada has been in the yoga scene for more than twenty years. She leads workshops, teacher training and immersions nationwide. Nikki began her formal training in India, focusing on Ashtanga. She is currently a senior yoga teacher and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nikki's Vinyasa-based classes are a synthesis of her years of yogic and Ayurveda study and personal experience, with an emphasis on spirituality, intelligent alignment, meditation, and living life more joyfully. Find Nikki at www.nikkiestradayoga.com. and use code NikkiGift for a free month of online yoga.
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